Taxing situation for NJ couple

Seven On Your Side
April 2, 2009 2:03:29 PM PDT
It was a year of frustration for the New Jersey couple. They had paid their state taxes on time, but somehow the state lost the payment. And then the federal government accused them of being deadbeats and withheld their thousands in a federal tax refund. "I want my money back," Lori Romanovsky gave her simple request to Seven On Your Side's Tappy Phillips. Lori and her husband John have been fighting the state of New Jersey for more than a year.

It started last April, when Lori paid $3100 in taxes to New Jersey thru her online bill paying service. But then they got a puzzling letter. "Someone at the department of human services said that they have received our check in error," recounted Lori.

That right, Lori's tax check had been deposited in the wrong account. But Lori wasn't worried. New Jersey told her it had sent her payment to the division of taxation for the full amount. "So I figured it was over and resolved."

It was far from resolved. New Jersey insisted the taxes had not been paid.

"They still, as of last week, still could not locate the payment anywhere wuithin the state," said the frustrated taxpayer.

The Romanovsky's needed the money. They have one small child and another on the way. Lori's bank tried to help, reissuing a check to the state. But there was one more surprise. "We get our refund check this year and it was 38-hundred dollars less than what we were supposed to be getting back."

Thats right, the Romanovsky's federal refund had been seized by New Jersey to cover the supposed unpaid state taxes plus interest and penalties.

So Lori called for Seven on her Side. After we contacted New Jersey, Lori got a call. She was getting a check from the state the full amount.

That left the frustrated resident, relieved and grateful. "It took me a year to get even one phone call back from anybody and it took you guys 2 days."

The state of New Jersey apologized saying somehow the original tax check had been "misdirected" and cashed by the department of human services - but this was last year. A rep couldn't tell us how this happened or why it took nearly a year to get the problem straightened out. ----

Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tappy Phillips